Seattle’s Bay Mussels Contain Traces Of Opioids

Seattle’s Bay Mussels Contain Traces Of Opioids

Seattle’s Bay Mussels Contain Traces Of Opioids

Mussels from two areas - including Elliot Bay on Seattle's west side - tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone, a type of opioid.

Researchers at Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have discovered that mussels in the Seattle's waters are trying positive for the opioids.

The level of oxycodone found in a single mussel was 100 to 500 times smaller than a therapeutic human dose, Lanksbury said.

The areas where the oxycodone-tainted mussels were sampled are considered highly urbanized and are not near any commercial shellfish beds.

Scientist Andy James at the Puget Sound Institute assisted with the study.

Lanksbury said the opioids likely entered the water through human waste, either through urine after ingesting the drugs, or in higher concentrations when people flush pills down the toilet.

The researchers say the mussels are filter feeders, meaning they absorb contaminants from the surrounding water into their tissue.

The opioids likely come from wastewater treatment plants, according to the statement; even filtered wastewater can contain traces of pollutants.

But the potential presence of oxycodone in fish would be concerning, however, as they do metabolize opioids.

They deposited mussels into 18 locations.

There's enough opioids in Elliott Bay for mussels to register for that when they're put in the water.

Scientists who track pollution have discovered traces of antibiotics and the pain reliever oxycodone in some of Seattle's Puget Sound mussels, indicated "a lot of people" are using the drugs in the area.

"What this is telling us is some of this stuff is coming out of our wastewater treatment plants and so we need to do a better job either at controlling the sources or trying to reduce the exposure in the Puget Sound", said Lanksbury. Every other year, she and her colleagues monitor fish and shellfish from the Puget Sound - specifically herring, English sole, Chinook salmon and most recently mussels. "Hopefully our data shows what's out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters".

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2016 projected that almost 300 lbs of the pharmaceuticals, industrial compounds and personal care products ended up in Puget Sound every day, some at the high concentrations to harmfully impact the fish.

According to the WDFW, people who eat mussels from a restaurant or grocery store should not be anxious about getting high on opioids. All of the other areas tested did not have oxycodone.

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